Johnson’s batting ability no surprise to old club mates

March 1st, 2009 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 1 (IANS) Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson’s batting prowess might have surprised the cricket world but his former club mates from the Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club in Brisbane always knew of his potential to be an all-rounder.
Johnson’s blazing 96 not out at the Wanderers in Johannesburg Friday was just the latest in a series of batting displays that suggest Australian selectors could use the West Australian as the all-rounder they have been searching for since the 2005 Ashes tour.

Norths coach Brett Mortimer revealed Johnson made centuries as a stand-in opener in 2003-04 when stress fractures prevented him from bowling. In fact, Mortimer came up with the novel idea to use the paceman as an opener in 2003.

“Brendan Nash was going away with the state side a bit so we needed another opener,” Mortimer was quoted as saying in the Herald Sun. “We thought Mitchie could hit the ball pretty well so we gave him the opportunity.

“The first half of the season that he played as opening batsman he got a couple of hundreds. After Christmas he (had recovered from his stress fractures and) could bowl again. He made it back into the state side that year as well.

“He loved it, actually. I think a lot of blokes identified that he could really, really play and he could turn the game.”

Mortimer said Johnson, a promising tennis junior who almost chose a career in that sport over cricket, was a natural when it came to hand-eye co-ordination and timing.

He said Australian selectors should think about using the Townsville-born Johnson as their all-round option in future Tests.

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